Free to Use and Reuse: Travel Posters

Faraway states, natural wonders and beautiful beaches—these are the settings that often come to mind as we start to plan our summer vacations. They also form the backdrop of hundreds of travel posters in the Library’s collections, including an assortment featured this month on the Library’s home page. The featured posters are U.S. government works, in the public domain or cleared for public use by copyright owners—meaning you can use them as you wish.

Frank Hazell’s poster of West Point as seen from the window of a train car.

Travel posters are now sometimes sold at auction for tens of thousands of dollars, but they began as ads for a burgeoning industry. Following advances in color lithography, railways began producing art-oriented posters in the late 1800s to sell seats. Steamship lines, resorts, hotels and later airlines adopted the medium as well, some employing well-known graphic artists to tempt travelers with scenes of glamour, beauty, adventure and leisure. Travel posters enjoyed the height of their popularity from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Frank Hazell (1883–1958) was a landscape artist who also worked in advertising in New York City. He painted travel posters and brochures and taught advertising art at the Grand Central School of Art. His commissions included a 1920s painting of the United States Military Academy at West Point as seen from the window of a New York Central Lines car traveling alongside the Hudson River in the autumn. The image is part of the Library’s online Artist Poster Collection. Hazell also did poster art for steamship companies and other institutions.

Katherine Milhous (1894–1977), an artist, illustrator and writer, supervised the Philadelphia Federal Art Project, a branch of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), from 1935 to 1940. Her duties included creating posters promoting Pennsylvania into which she incorporated familiar Pennsylvania Dutch designs. Several Milhous posters are included in the Library’s online collection of WPA posters. Milhous won a Caldecott Medal in 1951 for “The Egg Tree,” a children’s book she wrote and illustrated about the Pennsylvania Dutch Easter.

One of Katherine Milhous’s Pennsylvania travel posters.

This month’s featured posters are just a small sample of the Library’s digital collections that are freely available for your use. The digital collections comprise millions of items, including books, newspapers, manuscripts, prints and photos, maps, musical scores, recordings and more. Whenever possible, each collection item has its own rights statement. Please remember that rights assessment is your responsibility. For more information, see the Library’s guidance about copyright and Library collections.


  1. Cary Michael Cox
    April 25, 2017 at 10:32 am

    How awesome that they are available to everyone. I can’t wait to search and find some I like!

    Thanks for sharing with everyone!

    Cary Michael Cox

  2. Tj
    April 25, 2017 at 11:23 am

    The LOC is a rich and vast resource … now more fun with these examples of graphic design.
    Thank you!

    April 25, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    thanks from the North

  4. Donna Tschuta
    April 26, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Please tell me how I can get the free downloads for the travel posters.
    Thank you.

  5. Wendi Maloney
    April 26, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Thank you for your inquiry. Click on the posters you like from the set on the Library’s home page, // You will then see download options for each poster. Note that the Library has many more travel posters in its collections, // Some of the posters remain under copyright protection so be sure to check the rights information on the images you select.

  6. Pete Greulich
    April 26, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Wendi, it is wonderful to have information gathered in a manner that we do not have to worry about copyright infringement. Thank you.

    It would be great to understand how the library could make this a practice in all its work. Copyright is such an issue for authors that having a view of materials that is free of copyright without all the research that needs to be done would be a wonderful thing.


    – Pete

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